Senior Living Renovation is an Investment, Not an Expense.

With the number of new senior living communities recently opened or currently under construction, there is a growing need to update and refresh existing facilities to help improve their viability in the marketplace. 

As new senior housing communities, with all of the latest amenities and design trends, are coming online, older facilities need to position themselves as the better local option. The appearance and freshness of a community can have a significant impact on many aspects of a business. Having an attractive, appealing, and comfortable community can improve resident’s happiness and well-being, increase staff morale, and create a more positive public opinion, all which lead to increased occupancy and better financial performance of the community.

Investing in a renovation project can be a challenging process that can seem overwhelming and complicated.  The Douglas Company team has experience in planning and executing renovation projects.  We know and understand the unique requirements that skilled...

Read More >

Not Your Father’s Senior Living Community

As the baby boomer generation begins turning 70, senior living providers will have tremendous opportunities.  At the same time, they will face the challenge of reinventing their business and providing innovative solutions to meet the needs and demands of this new generation. Today’s seniors are looking for options that deliver the comforts and amenities of home.  This trend is changing the design and construction of senior living communities.  Designers are incorporating more residential design elements and finishes into new buildings, resulting in vibrant and comfortable spaces that are very inviting for residents.  The buildings being designed and constructed today are not your father’s senior living facility. By involving a general contractor very early in the planning process, working collaboratively with the design team, an owner can understand costs, lead times and constructability of various design components, and have the ability to make timely decisions.  The general contractor can also provide potential alternative options...

Read More >

Bidding Budgets

In the spirit of being a consultant I wanted to discuss a topic that we have seen create frustration and cost money for some developers.  Bidding Budgets; or “bidgeting” as we have heard it called.  It is when early drawings are put out to multiple General Contractors for the purpose of obtaining their budget estimate which will be utilized to select the contractor for the job.  In the beginning, the intent may have been to go with the best OVERALL choice, but in the end, the contractor with the lowest budget estimate is selected to work with going forward.  This is not working on a negotiated basis, this is bidding budgets. There are inherent risks to this process and at the end of the day, it doesn’t necessarily provide you with the best price solution (one of our brand promises by the way) that you were looking to move forward within...

Read More >

Managing Chaos

The management of construction projects has become more difficult in the last several years due to the following key factors:

  • Not having adequate, properly trained, manpower available
  • Subcontractors not managing their own work
  • Higher project finish levels
  • Quality and coordination of the design documents
  • Increased levels of local and state inspections
  • Construction material lead times
All of these factors can contribute to project delays if not addressed by the project team through proactive leadership. The only way proactive leadership can have a positive impact on a project is by the project team following processes on a daily basis to help prevent daily emergencies from impacting and delaying projects. The second most important aspect of proactive leadership is increased communication by the project leaders to help create accountability throughout the project team. Without a clear path to follow when it comes to managing projects, the task of achieving the desired objectives would prove...

Read More >

Green Building Trends

Recently I read an article by Dodge Data & Analytics regarding the expected rise in green construction globally. According to the article, over half of the 2,000 respondents in The World Green Building Trends 2018 report expect to see 60% of the projects across the globe to be green by 2021. In the US, it is expected to increase from 32% to 45% by 2021. Some of the reasons for the increase include increased client demands, improving environmental regulations, and healthier buildings for residents. With the expected increase in green construction, interestingly the percentages of projects that get certified are not expected to increase. Within The Douglas Company’s portfolio, we have built one LEED Silver Certified project, the Department of Veteran Affairs in Fayetteville, NC, and two other Department of Veteran Affairs in Toledo, OH, and Rochester, NY are LEED Silver Equivalent. Our experience with LEED projects allows The Douglas Company to implement the...

Read More >

The Douglas Company. We are a Developer’s Contractor.

But what does that mean?  It means quite simply that we exclusively work with developers.  We do not bid government projects or work with large corporations, retailers, etc.  We work with developers to assist them in making their vision become a reality. Being a developer’s contractor means we have the experience, knowledge, and personnel to get involved early in projects and work on a collaborative basis with the design team and owners.  Not everyone plays well with others but when you do it on a regular basis in the conceptual stages like we do, you get good at it and see the positive results it brings to a project and all involved. If you want a general contractor to sit on the sidelines while drawings are completed and then bid on that final set of drawings you are missing out on a very beneficial strategy to save time (which is, of course,...

Read More >

The Impact of Tariffs on Construction Costs

As everyone knows, there is a lot of controversy regarding trade and tariffs.  It is impacting the stock markets both domestically and internationally, and dramatically.  Recently I have been hearing of subcontractors qualifying their bids in our Florida market for the impact of tariffs, so I decided to do some research to find out what people, including the press, are saying about the impact.  In the past year or two, tariffs have been imposed on Canadian lumber, which did affect that pricing.  This past summer, tariffs were rendered on Chinese steel, which had a dramatic effect on those prices.  The steel increases are interesting, since less than 1% of our domestic steel comes from China, and in fact, we export more steel to China than we import. But that is in the past.  The question has to be, what can we anticipate coming up in the future, and should I be...

Read More >

Delivering “Peace of Mind”

As one of The Douglas Company’s core values, “Peace of Mind” is something that we take very seriously.   One of the key components to delivering “Peace of Mind” is timely and effective communication to ensure that clients are not surprised by unexpected events, delays or issues during their project. While we cannot prevent unexpected events, clients hire The Douglas Company for our ability to foresee potential challenges to their project, keep them informed, and offer a solution to deal with situations before they become a surprise.  Many times these are not easy conversations to have with clients, but they are crucial. Part of The Douglas Company’s on-going training and development program, all of our Project Managers, Assistant Project Managers, Superintendents, Estimating Staff, Business Development and Senior Management will be participating in a 3-hour seminar focused on “Building Better Customer Communication”.  Individually and collectively, all of us are committed to enhancing our communication...

Read More >

Important Concepts in Scheduling

The project schedule is a given for any construction project. For the project team, particularly the Project Manager, it is the most important tool in setting priorities for the team. For all other stakeholders in the project, it can be an incredibly useful tool as well. In order to take advantage of this however, there are a few important concepts to understand and to ask your contractor about regularly:

  • Progressive Elaboration - This is a concept that many schedules take advantage of, it involves bringing additional detail into the project schedule as it becomes available; typically as the team comes closer to performing the work. For instance, it is not reasonable to expect a project team to have a detailed breakdown and sequence assigned to the finishes portion of the schedule at ground break, but that portion of the schedule should look much different when you're wrapping up drywall work.
  • ...

    Read More >

The Case for Construction Technology — Productivity Loss

The conversation around the use of technology in construction management has changed dramatically it tone and frequency over the last several years. At least, that's the way it seems; but what do the numbers say about this? Turns out, it's not just a feeling. From 2011 to 2017 McKinsey measured $10 billion in investment in construction technology (stylized as "Con-tech") firms, and separately JLL measured already $1 billion in the first half of 2018 alone. Those numbers aren't surprising when at last count Skanska USA determined there were over 2,100 individual companies looking to take up some of the space that opened up in what was a pretty uninteresting sector for so many years. So con-tech is definitely on the rise - but why? Well, it's no secret that the construction industry is suffering from and diminishing workforce and rampant issues meeting schedules. We have a productivity problem. It isn't getting better...

Read More >

Integri-D Building Peace of Mind

Since our founding in 1976, The Douglas Company has focused on building senior living and multi-family projects for owners and developers who depend on us to control the risks and costs of the many facets of development.  During that time we have developed comprehensive processes for nearly everything we do. From preconstruction, project start, through construction, project completion and warranty, we have 68 detailed and documented processes in place that are followed, tracked and reported on consistently.  Additionally, we are continuously training our staff on these processes to assure consistency in the delivery of quality products.  These proven processes, and The Douglas Company’s discipline in following them is a true competitive advantage and provides our clients with the added value they deserve and expect from The Douglas Company. Earlier this year, we decided it was time to “brand” our processes to help our clients better understand how The Douglas Company will fulfill...

Read More >

Do you want a General Contractor? Or a partner that contributes to your success?

Developers want to bring the best product to the market that they can and do it in the most economical fashion that they can. Understandably so.  That makes for a successful project, after all.  Many pieces are important to the development team which can sometimes be a puzzle to put together. Especially important is the selection of a General Contractor.  There are of course multiple General Contractors that can help you build buildings.  The Douglas Company strives to be more than just a General Contractor because those can come and go.  We strive to be your business partner, contributing to your success by helping to create beautiful communities for people to call home. We enjoy nothing more than bringing our 42 years of experience to the table early in your project.  We can help work through initial budget estimates with our extensive experience in the senior living, multi-family and hospitality space.  When...

Read More >

Baby Boomers — The New Wave in Senior Living

The baby boomers, the massive increase in births that occurred between 1945 and 1964, started turning 65 in 2011.  The population of people over 65 stood at just over 41 million people in 2011.  With approximately 10,000 people turning 65 each day, the over-65 population is projected to grow to over 85 million by 2050. The baby boomers have shaped the housing market for many years, and as baby boomers approach retirement, there is no doubt, they will shape the senior housing market for years into the future.  Market studies indicate that as baby boomer age, they want to maintain an active lifestyle either within their own community, or a community near their adult children.  While many seniors prefer to stay in their homes as long as possible, a higher percentage of the baby boomer generation, compared to the previous generation, desire an easier “carefree” lifestyle. Senior (age restricted) apartment communities, villas,...

Read More >

Construction Project Managers Versus Other Industries

The title of Project Manager gets thrown around a lot today in our industry, and many others. Since the generally-accepted definition of a project is "A temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product, service or result", that's understandable. This broad-reaching definition written by the Project Management Institute can define a lot of different undertakings in so many industries, and since every project must have someone in charge, the title Project Manager is easy to assign. In some cases even, it's a de-facto title that someone assumes by accident or default in an organization, perhaps even on top of a functional role they already play within a company. In the construction industry, however, this is not a title that is taken lightly - nor should it be. A construction Project Manager is a specialized individual that takes the title through purposeful education and training, deliberate and hard work, and only after...

Read More >

Better, Not Bigger

There is a large need in the senior housing market to develop and build affordable communities. The current economy mandates, due to higher interest rates and high construction costs, the need to design and develop senior facilities that produce better, not bigger, designs. The best senior community operators are looking at downsizing all of their new senior properties to respond to the current market conditions and to increase competition in most markets. As many young Americans are attracted to micro-units, so too will seniors. The key to having an affordable design that will compete in the market is controlling the square footage of the living units, and the common space, while still providing top tier amenities. The Douglas Company is working on developing a prototype design for an assisted living and memory care communities that controls the square footage of the entire building footprint, but still provides a design that feels like...

Read More >

Cost Increases Continue

In late June, Turner Construction Company released its updated cost index for the second quarter of 2018. Turner has studied this data for decades, taking into account labor rates and productivity, material prices, and the competitive condition of the marketplace. This makes it unique to the many other indices available to our industry. The data from this month continued the quarterly trend of rising costs since 2014. In fact, costs were measured at 5.63% higher than where they were for the second quarter of last year. The quarterly increase from just three months ago is 1.68%. While these numbers don't show a change in trend, they remind us of an important reality: It is very difficult for contractors to hold pricing in these market conditions. That's also not to mention the volatility the recent tariffs have introduced to our marketplace, of which the impact is yet to be fully understood. Our only...

Read More >

Senior Living for the Middle Market

Lately, as I talk with our senior living clients, many of them seem to be thinking about the same challenge.  Similarly, that same challenge seems to be the topic of seminars at recent industry conferences, as well as the subject of several articles published in many of the trade magazines.  How do we provide senior living solutions to the middle market? For much of the past thirty-five-plus years, development and growth of the senior living industry has been off the charts.  Everyone understands that as the baby boomers age, we will be hard-pressed to meet the demand, however currently there continues to be concern and discussion that the market is becoming overbuilt.  But upon further study, one will quickly discover that most of the growth and development has been either on the high-end or on the affordable/subsidized end of the market.  Very little new development has been targeted at the middle...

Read More >

Prompt Payment and Risk Management

An interesting study was published recently on the impact of slow payments in the construction industry. It estimated that the average payment cycle for subcontractors is 54 days, and that is costing the industry over $40 billion dollars each year. That's a staggering figure, but one that makes sense when you consider the cost of construction rising and the amount of financing it takes for subcontractors to stay in business. This added cost comes from a number of sources:

  • Finance charges from lines of credit subcontractors must take out to afford materials.
  • Late fees assessed by suppliers when subcontractors can't pay bills due to non-payment.
  • Lost revenue from liquid assets being stuck in accounts receivable versus short-term investments.
  • The inability for subcontractors to obtain discounts from their vendors for prompt payment.
While this stresses the importance of making prompt payments on construction projects for the benefit of subcontractors succeeding, there is...

Read More >

Project Performance

In my travels in Florida meeting with prospective clients, I hear continued complaints about the performance of their contractors.  I get that, it is difficult, particularly in Florida.  So what is the solution?  We have found five primary factors:

  • Over supervise on projects.  This adds to general conditions, which nobody likes, but with high risk, highly leveraged, significant capital investments, such as these, it’s cheap insurance.
  • Keep ironclad control over details—every day.  The smallest detail can derail a project.
  • Ensure every activity that needs to occur on each job’s schedule occurs each day.
  • Hire quality subcontractors and suppliers who commit the resources to do the job well.  They don’t need to be gold plated, but they may not be the cheapest.
  • Have a cooperative, team and problem-solving orientation.  Every project will have its challenges.  The key is how teams work together to solve them.
I would love to tell you we...

Read More >

The Hidden Costs of Cost-Plus/GMP Work

There are cost inefficiencies intrinsic to the cost-plus/GMP delivery of construction (often referred to simply as GMP delivery).  The cost-plus/GMP method may have merit when delivering projects with significant unknown risks such as first-of-a-kind projects, or projects with limited historical data, or when a project must start construction without completion of the design.  However, when cost-plus/GMP delivery is used to deliver projects with well-established cost histories or projects with reasonably complete construction documents, then the cost-plus/GMP delivery method is likely to produce a cost premium when compared to a stipulated sum contract delivery (Lump Sum delivery). Let’s explore why. In a lump sum contract, the contractor is incentivized to deliver the project quickly and cost efficiently.  The incentive is simple.  When the contractor effectively drives the project with the optimal staff, he finishes on time or early and he enjoys the savings which result.  Lump sum contractors track their costs accurately and...

Read More >